What is Depression by Dr. Yapa Wijeratne

What is Depression by Dr. Yapa Wijeratne

Depression is now becoming a frequent complain of many people of those who seek medical care.


Therefore it is important to have a clear understanding about depression.Depression is not sadness nor is sadness depression. Depression is a clinical syndrome like other syndromes (syndrome means a collection of patient complaints & features elicited by a doctor)


Interesting fact regarding the depression being it is more difficult to diagnose than treat.


Unfortunately it is predicted that by 2020, depression will be the most common health problem in the developing countries.


Doctors use simple guidelines which are internationally recommended to identify depression. For that,


A - The depressive episode should last at least 2 weeks


B – The episode is NOT due to the use of a psycho active substance (alcohol) or due to an organic brain disease.


This means simple sadness or 2-3 days mood change will not fit in to depression.


Lets see the other important ones. Just see the features. They are important to assess the severity of the depression.


C-At least two of the following must be present


1-depressed mood that is abnormal for the individual, present most of the day and almost every day


2-loss of interest of pleasure in activities that are normally pleasurable


3-decreased energy or increased fatigability


D-Additional symptom or symptoms from the following list should be present


a-loss of confidence or self esteem


b-unreasonable feeling of self reproach or excessive or inappropriate guilt


c-recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or any suicidal behaviour


d-complaints or evidence of diminished ability to think or concentrate, such as indecisiveness or vacillation


e-change in psychomotor activity, with agitation or retardation (either subjective or objective)


f-sleep disturbance of any type


g-change in appetite (decrease or increase) with corresponding weight change


I know now you must be little confused how to assess the severity.


If you have atleast 2 from 1-3 (from C category) & atleast 2 from a-g (from D category) it is “mild depression”.


For example, you have depressed mood, decreased energy (from C category), sleep disturbance & change in appetite (from D category) for at least 2 weeks, it can be diagnosed as “mild depression”.


If you have atleast 2 from 1-3 (from C category) & atleast 3 from a-g (from D category) it is “moderate depression”.


If you have all 3 from 1-3 (from C category) & atleast 4 from a-g (from D category) it is “severe depression”.


Please note that these are simple guidelines & you should NOT avoid medical treatment by your own.


Medical Web Site at UniverSL Software Solutions (PVT) LTD.

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Dr Rikaz Sheriff

Director, Western Hospital

Rikaz Sheriff is responsible for all aspects of innovation and strategy of health informatics solutions of LankaDoctor. Rikaz joined UniverSL Software after working for 5 years as a Senior Medical Officer at Western Hospital where he leads the business development unit with responsibility for marketing strategy, brand management, advertising, and consumer promotions.

He also serves as the chief coordinator for their kidney transplant programme. Rikaz is a life member of the Sri Lanka Medical Association and the Health Informatics Society of Sri Lanka. Rikaz holds a MBBS degree from Baqai University (Pakistan) and a Master's degree in Biomedical Informatics from the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo. He also works as the Provincial Health Informatician for the Department of Health Services, Western Province.


Dr. Yapa Wijeratne
MBBS University of Perdeniya.
Medical Officer, Mawanella Hospital.

Yapa entered Faculty of Medicine in 2008, following a successful career at the Dharmaraja College, Kandy. While continuing his undergraduate career, he joined UniverSL Software. He completed his MBBS degree from University of Peradeniya & worked as a Temporary lecturer at Department of Basic sciences, Faculty of Dental Sciences, University of Peradeniya. After completing his internship, he is still working at Teaching Hospital Peradeniya.